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Whistleblower Blues: Man in the HoleTim King Salem-News.com
Some are dead, some are alive, and one is unaccounted for; this article is part of our ongoing series on racism and corruption in Oregon's prisons.
(SALEM, Ore.) - An inmate named Terrence Kimble in SRCI (Oregon's Snake River Corrections Facility), says he was offered a bribe to testify for the prosecution, when the state set out to frame a former Oregon corrections officer named William Coleman.
Instead, this inmate, who was convicted under more than shady circumstances, testified for Coleman, a victim of government whistleblower retaliation, and helped the former guard beat a rigged case. Oregon wasted massive amounts of law enforcement time and taxpayer resources, unsuccessfully trying to prosecute this man, in order to silence him, again without success.
Today William Coleman is concerned for Terrence Kimble's life. Oregon prison officials have blocked Coleman's mail to Kimble for several weeks, and each time the two discuss the racial crimes and Civil Rights violations taking place in the prison on the telephone, "Kimble ends up in the hole. That is where he is right now," Coleman said.
It all appears to be a clear effort to monitor and block Kimble, who has strong allegations about problems in the Oregon DOC (Department of Corrections), from communicating with Coleman, who is a known whistleblower.
As a corrections officer joining the staff of Oregon's old state prison in 2005, Georgia native William Coleman began undergoing a series of very difficult lessons that made him feel increasingly hopeless and discouraged.
Racism, corruption, drug dealing, prostitution; it all greeted him in what became an impossible workplace, and the reaction from his superiors when he reported and documented more than 21 particular incidents, ranged from, "You will never prove it Coleman", to even more outrageous statements.
Like.. "Yeah we know there's bad blood between those two", a response given to this former guard by a Captain, after Coleman reported that a known killer/lifer inmate with a history of in-prison attacks, revealed plans to kill another inmate.
The prisoner making the threat, William 'Dollar Bill' Thomas, claimed he had permission from prison officials for the hit. Coleman's report to officials was dismissed, and the prisoners were left in the main prison population together.
Within days the known killer made his move. Fortunately the victim, Clayton Howard, survived the violent stabbing. Also to Clayton Howard's fortune, a nurse learned of his injury and overruled a prison official decision to simply leave him in his cell bleeding from the 'shanking' by 'Dollar Bill' Thomas.
The most bizarre part, is the fact that 'Dollar Bill' Thomas has disappeared from the Oregon Corrections system.
We assume he does not have family members available to force the state to reveal his actual physical location, if he is still alive at all. He sure would be an interesting guy to talk to. Our understanding is that he was bitterly angry with prison officials for not honoring their endorsement of his crime. To underscore the racism issue in the Oregon State Prison, Coleman says he learned that 'Dollar Bill' had stabbed or shanked four inmates prior to Clayton Howard. All were black, as is William 'Dollar Bill' Thomas.
The situation gives Coleman the distinct impression that the prison left this murderous inmate in the main population because he only attacked fellow African-Americans.
To boot, Coleman says "'Dollar Bill' is a bone crusher: "It's a technique, I've seen the prison photos of his previous shankings, he liked to stab inmates on top of the head with a great deal of force. That's why they call him a bonecrusher, he does a lot more than just cutting and slicing when he does his work,"
Coleman says 'Dollar Bill' was sometimes friendly, always respectful to him on a personal level, but sometimes he simply fell into a murderous rage. Even then Coleman was one of the few that could approach and even console him. He says 'Dollar Bill' looked like a deadly cat, "I've gotta kill someone Coleman, I need to do it", Coleman recalls him saying one day.
There are many men who will testify about coercion and bribes made by Oregon prison officials, but William 'Dollar Bill' Thomas, a California gang member who is African-American, would testify over being bribed to Murder, and it is obvious that Oregon's DOC had to stash him somewhere.
What in the Hell has Oregon done with William 'Dollar Bill' Thomas?
Regardless, it is the knowledge of this Oregon DOC sanctioned attack against Howard, a 'jail house lawyer' who has helped nine inmates win claims against the state, that concerns us for the sake of Terrence Kimble.
Along with Clayton Howard, and another inmate named John Smith, Terrence Kimble said he was offered a bribe to testify for the prosecution, when the state set out to frame Coleman.
They all wanted nothing to do with a railroad job on Coleman, and instead agreed to testify on Coleman's behalf. Coleman's public defender, obviously in collusion with the prosecution, refused to call two of Coleman's three witnesses, which they were in agreement over for months.
Even though all three of Coleman's witnesses were subpoenaed and transported to the courthouse, he only was able to have Kimble called to the stand.
That was still enough though, to get Coleman a unanimous not guilty verdict on a 15 count indictment for smuggling cigarettes.
Coleman says though that if the others had been called up, his case would have been much stronger. In fact the real case is the ridiculous amount of time the state spends trying to cover its tracks.
No Checks, No Balances: a system out of Control
Oregon's Corrections Department may be little more than an overt, tangled mass of corruption. Relying on prejudice for guidance and a passive public for allowance, crimes have taken place in Oregon's prisons that can't quite be accounted for with words like 'revolting', 'evil' and 'dirty'- it is even bigger, more dangerous and sinister, than that.
Michael Francke: the sacrificial hero who was brought to Oregon 21 years ago; is the Vietnam Veteran prison corrections chief who straightened out New Mexico Corrections after corruption that led to dozens of deaths during a terrible period of unrest earlier in the 1980's.
Francke was hired by former Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt in 1988 to raise the bar and rid Oregon of its dirty problems. In addition to drug dealing and prostitution, prison officials offered free weekend passes for murderers and cattle rustling was a serious issue, in the 1980's, in Oregon, seriously.
He lasted a little over a year. Francke was preparing to expose a great deal of corruption to state legislators during scheduled hearings; exactly what he was brought here to do, according to sources like his brother Kevin Francke, when he was savagely stabbed to death, and his body was left on the porch of Oregon's 'Dome Building' which is the Dept. of Corrections headquarters.
Oregon's Dirty Secret
An underage drug addict's testimony was used to convict another drug dealer for the Murder. Frank Gable has been locked up for two decades. Oregon Lottery Director Dale Penn was the Marion County, Oregon District Attorney at the time of the Francke Murder. He oversaw the case.
The governor who hired Francke, Neil Goldschmit, as it turns out, was having an affair with his underage babysitter during this timeframe. He, along with many others, ultimately went along with Penn's quest to convict Gable. Goldschmidt's affair with the minor came to light in more recent years.
Sadly, Michael Francke's death ultimately issued a broader license for corruption in Oregon's prisons.
The state's top officials learned a big lesson through Francke's role and death here; that is to never toy with high integrity out of state officials, keep them at arms length and out of Oregon. That is, unless they are willing to 'play the game' and avoid the state's corruption as though it doesn't exist. People like the state's current Attorney General, John Kroger.
The layers are deep, and sadly it endangers the lives of people like Coleman, Kimble and Howard. For all we know state officials killed Thomas, and until they produce him, it seems a valid possibility, based on the agency's track record. And for the record, as I revealed in a previous story, I have had interesting conversations with various officials about William 'Dollar Bill' Thomas. He really truly is missing from the system. He comes up in a computer search and there is a vague sign of his existence in the DOC system if you enter his assigned number, but no reference to his location. I think he is the only inmate in Oregon listed under these conditions. On the phone, a law enforcement clerk told me, "I have never seen this, somebody doesn't want us to know where he is".
So, law enforcement officials who are reading this, and not part of the corruption, do us all a favor and run his name in your system and see it for yourself, and then do the right thing and help launch an inquiry.
Terrence Kimble's continual punishment, being placed "in the hole' at SRCI- where this wrongly convicted man can not use a telephone to communicate with his elderly, ailing mother, is an abomination of a crime; especially when considering that a second grader could examine the court documents and see that his trial is reminiscent of something that might have happened in Mississippi in 1955, but not Oregon in 2001, or so we would like to believe.
On a final note, the last contact between Coleman and Kimble that led to Kimble's punishment in 'the hole', involved Coleman playing the audio from the series of video reports we have produced at Salem-News.com on his plight, so that Kimble could know and hear with his own ears, the fact that somebody in this world beyond his family and friends, is pulling for him setting the record straight. Truth and justice are lacking commodities in Oregon's Corrections Department and also in the Department of Justice.
This article is part of our ongoing series on racism and corruption in Oregon's prisons. To see the previous installments, visit this link: Salem-News.com Series on Racism and Corruption in Oregon's Prisons
Articles for August 24, 2010 | Articles for August 25, 2010 | Articles for August 26, 2010
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